Under the category, 'things men must master before they expire' nestled alongside 'open a bottle of wine with a shoe' and 'make a massive fire' is the small matter of cooking the perfect steak. Which is precisely why we sat down with chef Mitch Tonks to reveal the five simple steps to meat heaven. There's even a recipe and wine recommendation to help get you started.
1. The meat
Find yourself a great bit of meat. Whichever cut you like best. I like rib-eyes because of the fat content. Make sure you look for a really nice marbling of fat throughout the meat. Fat’s all important to enjoying a good steak. The flavour comes from the fat. You’re looking for something that’s been hung for a minimum of 21 days, that tenderises the meat and allows it to mature. Look out for meat with yellowing fat as well. In my opinion, that tends to have the most flavour, and you get this lovely rendering of fat into the pan. I use a local bread called a Devon Red crossed with a Limousin which is a French cow. But mainly, the type of beef that’s good for this is Aberdeen Angus.
There’s many schools of thought saying not to season the beef before you cook it. But I like to season it. Rub the steak with olive oil and then season with plenty of salt and coarsely ground black pepper. Get a frying pan really hot. Take a pair of tongs and sear the fat running the length of the steak until that gets a nice crisp look and has rendered into the pan, that means you’ve got a little bit of hot fat in the pan for flavour.
Now that the pan is hot – not too hot so that everything burns but not to cold so that the meat boils in its own juices – flip the steak onto its side. If it’s an inch thick do three to four minutes on one side. Turn it, and then what you’re looking for is a crispy, exterior, a bit of caramelisation of the meat and then repeat on the other side. If it’s a really thick piece of meat, pop the whole pan in the oven for seven or eight minutes.
The most important thing when cooking a steak is you’ve got to let the steak rest. What you want is for the heat to have got to the centre of the meat. Leave the meat in a warm place, on top of the cooker with the heat off is fine. Let that rest for a good ten minutes. It’s very important. What’s happening, when the steak has gone in to the pan all of its fibres have just tensed up – by allowing it to relax you’re letting the meat to relax, the juices to start flowing out, and the meat to continue cooking and you really get that evenness of cooking all the way through.
Pop it on to a plate, whole or sliced, and you should have a couple of tablespoons of juices in the pan to spoon over. Serve.
Recipe - Grilled sirloin of beef with anchovy butter
You will need
2 sirloin steaks
100g softened butter
3 or 4 salted anchovy fillets
1 clove of garlic
1 tablespoon of chopped parsley
1 teaspoon of Worcestershire sauce
Mash the anchovy fillets with the garlic in a pestle and mortar and stir in the softened butter. Add the chopped parsley and the Worcestershire sauce, mix well then chill for half an hour. Next, grill the sirloin steaks to your liking in a hot griddle pan then place a good slice of the butter on the meat while it rests. Allow the seasoned butter to melt and combine with the meat’s juices.
This is a deliciously simple meal best served with seasonal greens and a glass of Redwood Creek Merlot - a fantastic wine match with juicy flavours of ripe cherries and blackberries and hints vanilla and spice that complement the butter notes in the dish.